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Why Thom Brennaman’s apology for a homophobic slur rings hollow



Thom Brennaman apologized many times over in his desperation to salvage the shards of his career after using a homophobic slur when he didn’t realize his microphone was on during Wednesday’s Reds-Royals broadcast on Fox Sports Ohio.

But the apologies, which the Reds play-by-play man delivered before departing the broadcast in the fifth inning of the second game of a doubleheader — the comment was made during the first game — still have not answered two crucial questions.

Why would he say such a thing in the first place, no matter whether the microphone was on or off?

And: Is this something he has done before?

The second question probably can be answered only by people who have worked with him on Reds broadcasts and would be willing to speak with candor about Brennaman’s behavior, for better or worse, behind the scenes.

It’s the first question that lingers over all of this and makes his apologies ring hollow to me.

Brennaman, who was suspended indefinitely by Fox Sports Ohio Wednesday and then by the national Fox Sports brand, for which he has called NFL games, on Thursday, said he’s “a man of faith” during his on-air apology. (He later apologized further in a story written by a reporter for The Athletic.) He said he was “deeply ashamed” of the comment and that he was “very, very sorry.” And he said, “That is not who I am, it never has been.”

That last claim is hard to swallow right now. If that’s not him, then why say such a hateful thing under any circumstances? Why did he think it was acceptable to say when he thought only the broadcast crew could hear it? Why would such a thought ever pop into his head, and why did he not have the filter to prevent it from coming out of his mouth?

I do hope some people who work with him speak up about who they know him to be, one way or the other. In his apology, Brennaman all but pleaded for people to vouch for him. So far, no one has publicly.

If you believe he had the misfortune of being caught the very first time he ever spewed such a comment, I have some oceanfront property in Cincinnati to sell you.

We already know one aspect of his apology isn’t true. He can say, “That is not who I am, it never has been,” but that live microphone told us exactly who he was, at least in that moment.

What happened to Brennaman is not cancel culture, a term primarily used by people who behave reprehensibly and then bleat about how unfair it is when they finally face comeuppance.

This is someone getting hit with the proper consequences for a shameful action. Brennaman said something inexcusable when he didn’t know his mike was on. That’s more than enough reason for his mike to be turned off, perhaps for good.

It’s show time, finally

The news that Michael Smith and Michael Holley will be the hosts and executive producers of a new daily show, “Brother From Another,” on the NBC Sports channel of the new Peacock streaming service was one more reminder that they should have had a show together in Boston long ago.

The former Globe sportswriters met when Smith was an intern at the newspaper in 1999. During a conversation I had with Holley for a piece I wrote in March on the defunct sports radio station 1510 The Zone, where they occasionally hosted together, Holley recalled that he was supposed to be Smith’s mentor. Instead, they became instant friends.

“We just wound up hanging out all the time, so I guess I mentored him in listening to music and having food and talking about sports,” said Holley. “That was my mentorship.

“But we’ve been talking about doing something together even since then, and five years after that, and 10 years after that, and we’re still talking about it 20 years later. Maybe someday we’ll eventually find a way to do a show together.”

That finally has happened — the show is set to premiere sometime in September — but it is lamentable that it didn’t happen on the Boston airwaves far sooner.

Former WEEI program director Jason Wolfe said on Twitter this past week it almost happened back when he was at the station. And 1510 put them together often enough for it to be clear that they had the kind of rare on-air chemistry that comes from genuine friendship. I suspect that will be obvious from the get-go on “Brother From Another.”

A blind spot

Off-site broadcasters across all sports have done a generally remarkable job of not missing a beat while calling games off a monitor, and that certainly includes Mike Gorman and Brian Scalabrine on NBC Sports Boston’s Celtics broadcasts. But I must note that the Gordon Hayward injury in the playoff opener against the 76ers was the first instance in which broadcasters missed something significant by not being live at the arena or ballpark. Neither Gorman not Scalabrine noticed that Hayward rolled his ankle and limped off, behind the basket and out of the picture. If these were normal days and they were calling the game from their usual courtside perch, there’s no doubt they would have spotted the hobbled Hayward.

Lots of eyes on Newton

Cam Newton’s YouTube videos have been an effective tool for hyping up Patriots fans about his arrival, even if the charismatic former MVP supposedly is in a battle for the starting quarterback spot. SportsAtlas’s Will Cavanaugh, via Sports Business Journal, had some interesting data about Newton’s reach on YouTube. The six videos he posted during the offseason drew an average of more than 700,000 views, making him tops among all NFL players in YouTube viewership since the season ended. Newton launched his channel 18 months ago and has more than 456,000 subscribers … I could get used to NBA and NHL games regularly being played during weekdays, though I sympathize with those who are at work and can’t watch. This much we probably can agree on: The appeal of early games makes the Red Sox’ decision to set first pitch at 7:30 p.m. even more absurd.

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